As negotiators struggle to develop a future strategy for sustaining life on earth, the word Satoyama echoes around the corridors of the CBD COP10 in Nagoya. Broadly speaking, Satoyama landscapes recognize the strong connection between ecosystems and agricultural systems, and are being touted as one potential solution to halting biodiversity loss.
In line with this approach, new research from the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), carried out in bamboo production forests in China, suggests that the economic benefits of biodiversity are likely to outweigh the costs, lending weight to a paradigm shift that is beginning to value biodiversity as an investment rather than a luxury.
“Satoyama is society in harmony with nature,” said Professor Kazuhiko Takeuchi, Vice Rector of the United Nations University. “But these sustainably managed production landscapes are threatened by urbanization and industrialization. Bamboo is one resource that can help us re-establish a sound human-nature relationship. On the one hand its unique biophysical properties can re-vitalize landscapes, while on the other hand bamboo delivers a huge amount of goods for rural communities.”
Bamboo forests deliver vital ecosystem services, including climate regulation, biodiversity conservation, water purification and erosion control; and help to sustain the livelihoods of more that 1.5 billion people around the world, by providing food, shelter, energy and income.
“Bamboo stands at the interface between agrosystems and ecosystems, so it fits perfectly within Satoyama’s socio-ecological production landscapes, which can already be found in many parts of the world,” said Dr Coosje Hoogendoorn, INBAR’s Director General. “We’ve come to realize that we can no longer separate the issues of biodiversity loss and rural poverty; just as the causes of both are inextricably linked, so too must the solutions be. Bamboo in Satoyama may offer one solution.”
A new INBAR report - Biodiversity in Bamboo Forests: a policy perspective for long-term sustainability - indicates that a short-term focus on high yields and transition to bamboo monocultures can have long-term negative impacts on biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation; which can ultimately reduce productivity.
“The important thing about these findings is that it places an economic imperative on conserving biodiversity,” said Dr Lou Yiping, lead author of the report. “We can’t rely on a cute and cuddly angle to conserve biodiversity, especially in areas where there are high levels of poverty. We have to quantify the economic value of ecosystem services, including biodiversity and carbon sequestration, if we’re to understand how – and why – to manage socio-ecological production systems over the long-term.”
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